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making the most of Isle of Skye with so much more to see of Scotland!

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making the most of Isle of Skye with so much more to see of Scotland!

Old Oct 18th, 2011, 02:55 PM
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making the most of Isle of Skye with so much more to see of Scotland!

My husband and I (mid thirties, active) plan on going to Scotland towards the 16th or 17th of May and staying for 12 days. we love ruins, old towns and beautiful scenery. My biggest concern at this point is trying to fit in Skye with the time we have. I'm the kind of gal who will gently say to my husband, "Honey, can you pull over right NOW!" so I can get pictures of things I see while driving so I know drive time will be well over what is suggested . We have no plans set in stone at all so we can fly in and out of wherever we want and stay wherever we want.

Here are the places we're sure we want to visit based on our research (and your helpful advice
**2 days in Edinburgh for the city
**2 days to visit the following (Borders abbeys Kelso Abbey, Jedburgh Abbey, Melrose Abbey and Dryburgh Abbey) and maybe Dunfermline or Culross. (we would rather stay somewhere else then have to do day trips from Edinburgh to see these places so we can enjoy sunsets without worrying about driving too late.)
**Eilean Donan Castle and areas around Inverness
**we would like to take the bridge to Skye if possible to avoid the ferries (if I'm reading the other posts correctly?)
**two or three days in Skye to absorb as much of it's beauty as possible ( I know...still too short of a time span!)
**We really don't want to spend anytime in modern areas (is it wrong of me to think that of Glasgow?)
**I would love to add more to our itinerary but really want to try to get in at least 3 days in Skye and pray the midges aren't out to play

I am up for any suggestions on where we may want to stay for the nights (we don't need anything fancy..the less expensive, the better) and if I am being realistic on where we hope to go. I would also love suggestions on where to fly out of (I expect flying into Edinburgh make the most sense.)

I realize there may still be a lot I can fit in here and there but I'm completely overwhelmed with all the amazing sites and the thought of driving in Scotland

Thank you for any helpful criticism and opinions....I feel this trip will be unlike any other!
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Old Oct 18th, 2011, 10:10 PM
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Just a couple of quick comments. Will try to get back w/ more tomorrow.

There is a lot more to see in the Borders besides the Abbeys (which are all very worthwhike)

Just a few include:

St Abbs Head
http://tinyurl.com/43lm37j

Tantallon Castle
http://tinyurl.com/3j8v3lq

Dirlton Castle/Gardens
http://tinyurl.com/43lnudh

Smailholm Tower
http://tinyurl.com/3ulenkw

Plus lots more that fit your criteria

"**we would like to take the bridge to Skye if possible to avoid the ferries (if I'm reading the other posts correctly?)"

No reason to avoid the ferry. What most folks do is take the bridge one way and the Mallaig Ferry the other -- depending on the rest of the itinerary. That way one doesn't have to back track. Eilean Donan is just down the road from the bridge -- not near Inverness.
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 05:09 AM
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Thank you Janisj! I'll look forward to more and thank you for those tips...what amazing places You helped me a great deal with my California trip... I really appreciated it!
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 02:01 PM
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Hi
We did a week in Scotland in the summer (trip report almost ready to be posted)and stayed in a different place every night and loved it. Skye was our favourate place of the whole trip and the scenery there is absolutely stunning. Finding great places to stay will be easy and you hould definately try amix of bed and breakfast places, apartments and hotels. On Skye we stayed at the separate cottage at the Silverdale Guest House.

Eilean Donan castle is lovely but took a couple ofhours to see so don't plan a day round it. Seeing four abbeys in two days will be a little draining - maybe pick the 2 best or 3 at most and fit in some other stuff.

Inverness was the most disapointing place we visited on our trip and we stayed in a lovely B&B in Dores and went to the local pub the Dores Inn which had magnificent views of Loch Ness from their beer garden and great pub food.

Glasgow is excellent and is a great example of a city that came to prominence in the 19th century. It makes an interesting contrast to Edinburgh.

Do check out www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk which I found really useful and get a copy of Peter Irvine's book Scotland The Best which also helped enormously. Tripadvisor was also invaluable in finding excellent places to stay.

I'll try and get the report finished soon and posted.
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 02:29 PM
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"Seeing four abbeys in two days will be a little draining - maybe pick the 2 best or 3 at most and fit in some other stuff"

Not really. Kelso is a pretty fragmentary/small ruin (though lovely) plopped in the very center of the town. Can be seen during a stop for lunch or just passing through. Melrose and Dryburgh are very near each other. Jedburgh is farther away but very easy to get to. Some might fear 'Abbey overload' but Melrose/Dryburgh/Jedburgh/Kelso is an easy day. Though if one is staying in the area it would be great to visit them on different days.

Dunfermline and Culross are easier visited on you way from Edinburgh towards the NW/Skye. They aren't convenient to the Border sites.

If it was me --I'd just do a 10minute photo stop at Eilean Donan and not go inside. You are going to visit several more impressive sites during your trip. The interiors at Eilean Donan really aren't worth the time commitment on a short itinerary.

There are some wonderful things to see/do in Glasgow, but I honestly think it doesn't match w/ most of your wants/musts.

If you have 12 days 'on the ground' I'd spend 2-3 full days in Edinburgh, 3 days in the Borders, 2 days in the Trossachs (visiting Dunfermline and Culross enroute), 2.5-3 days on Skye.

and then 'play' w/the remaining day or 2.Depending on where you fly out of. You could visit Helensburgh (Hill House) and Loch Lomond on the way down to GLA, or you could pick up Dunfermline/Culross on the way back to EDI.

The reasons I suggest 2 days in the Trossachs are that is is a good break between the Borders and Skye and there are just sooo many things to see. Inchmahome Priory, Stirling Castle, Doune Castle, the Falls of Dochart, and tons of lovely scenery.

http://tinyurl.com/3wajmvq
http://tinyurl.com/4x8p7fk
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 05:08 PM
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tjhome1, thank you so much for your insight. I will take you up on the book and the website. I can't wait to read your report..thanks for taking the time to write it for everyone

janisj...I just checked out pics of the Trossachs...I had no idea how beautiful. I'll still have to figure out the best route which I'm now thinking may be counterclockwise from Edinburgh ((visiting Dunfermline and Culross enroute). We could consider making the boarders our last visit stops and fly out from Edinburgh also) I appreciate your mention about Glasgow not matching w/ most of my wants/musts....I think you're right.

Thank you both...so much!
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 07:08 PM
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" We could consider making the boarders our last visit stops and fly out from Edinburgh"

That is totally doable. You could do Edinburgh, Glencoe, Skye, the Trossachs, the Borders, EDI. Or vice versa.

Or you could fly into GLA and out of EDI. In that case I'd stay the first night somewhere along Loch Lomond (a very short/easy drive from GLA), then on to Skye for 3 nights, Ballachulish/Glencoe 1 night, the Trossachs for 2 nights, the Borders for 2 or 3 nights, drop the car and stay in Edinburgh the final 2 or 3 nights.
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Old Oct 20th, 2011, 09:02 AM
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Janisj, would it be possible for you to steer me to a site or suggested route when it comes to roads for your last post? I don't expect you to write one out but do you know of a general itinerary similar to the one I'm looking at based on your suggestions? I'm thinking of the Edinburgh to Edinburgh route but may want to look at flight prices to see if there is any price difference on where to fly into. Thanks again and again
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Old Oct 21st, 2011, 08:14 AM
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Brief- "Couple(mid thirties, active) Scotland mid-May, 12 days. Focus on ruins, old towns and beautiful scenery.

**2 days in Edinburgh
**2 days to visit Kelso Abbey, Jedburgh Abbey, Melrose Abbey and Dryburgh Abbey
**Eilean Donan Castle and areas around Inverness
** bridge to Skye
**two or three days in Skye"

1st comment; You don't really want to cross Edinburgh to go from the Borders to Culross, and Culross is not en route to the north (although I'm coming back to that). So subject to subsequent comment, do Culross from Edinburgh before swinging south.

2nd Comment. Eliean Donan is not "Inverness area". It's spitting distance to the Skye Bridge. IF you want to go to Inverness, pick up Eilean Donan en route to Skye (actually, pick up Eilean Donan en route to Skye either way, just miss out Inverness if you're doing a west coast route. If you're going to Inverness, you have an excuse. I would not recommend

3rd comment- unless we get a very warm spring- unlikely but possible- midges will not be an issue. I use Autan. Others swear by Avon's "Skin so Soft"

4th comment- Agree with janis about the ferries. Like janis, I wouldn't bother much with the interior of Eilean Donan. It's the exterior that is drop dead gorgeous. Inside is, relatively speaking, modern

But were I doing your 12 days, I would do it slightly differently. I'll do more on this this evening.
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Old Oct 21st, 2011, 01:33 PM
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Thank you Sheila, I am always up for suggestions. Only thought Inverness would be on the agenda as a place to stay...I have been reading it isn't much to sing about so no hurt feelings in the least if it is suggested not to stop there. I'm still trying to get my bearings on locations and distances.

That is nice to hear about the midges and have now heard that from a few helping me here (big sigh of relief since I'm allergic to everything!)

I look forward to hearing whatever you want to suggest
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Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 03:23 AM
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Have you looked at the possibilities of flying in to Manchester - there are very cheap flights to east coast US and the trip north is fairly easy and allows a gentle introduction to Scotland and might break up the trip well so that you do countryside then Edinburgh then Skye then end in a city. I only suggest in case getting a good price on the flights is important.

The way I planned our trip was buying a big map and just working out best routes that fitted in with what we wanted to see - it took a time but worked well. Then when you actually get there and are on the road ditch the map and get a good road atlas - easily available - we used an A4 sized A-Z visitor's atlas and guide at a scale of 3 miles to one inch and found it perfect for finding the excellent single track roads we wanted to use.

My trip report is on now (in installments)

Tim
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Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 08:36 AM
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2 days in Edinburgh for the city- I think you have to start with Edinburgh (or Glasgow; but, much as I like it and would recommend it to others, it doesn't hit your targets.) Now, I think you need two days (three nights) minimum. You could easily spend the whole time there, but assuming you want to move on, I think you need to pitch the time right. Do you know what time of day you'll arrive? IMHO, the jetlag is always worse west to east; so I think it really matters what time you will arrive. I think you need to stay overnight and then start counting your two days.

You will have the castle, obviously, and I think you should do a walk round the Dean village, and if you're up for it, all the way down the Water of Leith to Leith.

Leaving Edinburgh is when it gets hard; but I think, were it me, I'd do Fife. The East Neuk villages just can't be beaten. And you have Falkland Palace, and heaps of fabulous coastal scenery too. Start at Culross, then cut past Dunfermline, to somewhere like Aberlady; stay in Pittenweem or Anstruther, and do Falkland and St Andrews the next day. Same home base, then...

head west to ...Perth- Huntingtower castle- Crieff, Comrie; St Fillans; Lochearnhead, Crianlarich, Dalmally, Glencoe, Fort William, Arisaig, Mallaig; bota to Skye, and accommodation. That will take a whole day. 3 days on Skye; then off over the bridge, Eilean Donan, Inverness, Glasgow, Perth, Kelso. That journey will take a day; stay three nights and do the Border Abbeys.

Back to Edinburgh and home
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Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 02:27 PM
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thank you guys...TJhome...we are also thinking of renting a GPS along with the car. Thanks for the tips.

Sheila, I'm going to have to research all the places you recommend..exciting! We plan on taking a flight which will have us landing around 8am in Edinburgh. When we did a similar flight time in Spain, by the time we got to the hotel, it was close to 12:00pm so we just walked around near the hotel for a few hours and called it an early night. I agree, unless you get good sleep on the plane (which we never do) your first day there can be rough. thanks for the suggestions..I'm sure I'll have more questions soon
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Old Oct 24th, 2011, 10:36 AM
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Always good to have a really good road map with you too though as some of the special places can be off the main routes. We had GPS but would have missed some of the best drives of our trip if we had relied on it. The A-Z guide we had ws just about $10.
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Old Oct 24th, 2011, 03:24 PM
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Sheila's advice is spot on - the villages in that area of Scotland are lovely. Check out Dunnottar Castle, too. We stayed at Grantown-on-Spey, a sweet village slightly inland.

When we were on Skye, we were delighted with our stay at the Lodge at Edinbane - 16th century hunting lodge, pub and restaurant on premises, family run, very charming. Be sure to ask Hazel about the Fairy Glen
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Old Oct 24th, 2011, 07:26 PM
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I agree tjhome...a map is still very important. Thank you Greendragon for your advice. This trip will be here before we know it. I will look into the Lodge and see about checking in with Hazel
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Old Oct 25th, 2011, 08:09 AM
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http://www.the-lodge-at-edinbane.co.uk/
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Old Oct 25th, 2011, 08:48 AM
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If you stay at the Lodge at Edinbane then the Edinbane Inn is also worth a look into for a bite to eat and somewhere to drink if you fancy a change. Undergoing a steady transformation and getting good reports.

We love Stein and the Waternish Peninsula (staying at the Stein Inn this weekend in fact). The ruin at Trumpan has a sad tale of massacres attached to it, but on a good day wonderful views to the Outer Isles.

You are also handy for Dunvegan castle too. None of these more than a short drive from Edinbane.

On Trotternish you have Duntulm Castle and Rhuba Huinish if you want a scenic walk and the Flodigarry Hotel does good food. You can drive the whole peninsula easily enough, taking in the sight of the Old Man of Storr and back down to Portree and then back to Edinbane.

Not as familiar with the South of the Island but I am sure others will help.
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Old Oct 25th, 2011, 09:02 AM
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All are terrific suggestions/additions. However IMO you need to sit down and do some serious sorting out/prioritizing. You will end up cutting yourselves quite (VERY) short in some areas if you want to include Edinburgh, Fife, the Borders, Skye, Culross/Dunfermline, the Trossachs, Aberdeenshire/Dunnottar and Grantown-on-Spey.

You had the framework of a very nice, slightly hurried but not at all crazy itinerary. All of the new suggestions are extremely worthwhile -- but you can't see all/do all in just 12 days. If you cannot extend your time -then for each area you add, you really need to cut back somewhere else.

This isn't at all meant as criticism of ANY of the suggestions. Just a fact that Scotland is a big place w/ literally hundreds of great/amazing/unique sites. Pick a few of them and enjoy your trip. (And start planning your return visit to see some of the rest )
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Old Oct 25th, 2011, 10:33 AM
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Trying to include Edinburgh, the Borders, the East Neuk and then driving up to Skye for sveral days is an awful lot of territory to cover in only 12 days. I was somewhat confused by shiela's remark " then off the bridge [Skye], Eilean Donan, Inverness, Glasgow, Perth, Kelso." That really doesn't make any sense (logistically) and I'm sure sheila realizes that, just one of those 'too quick posts' that we all make at one time or another.

Have another look at janisj's second post and itinerary. This includes almost all the places you've mentioned, yet is still doable within a reasonable time frame.
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